The Braves attempted to lower the difficulty by shipping in a triple A pitcher at the last minute, Casey Kelly, to make sure the Phillies had no excuse to not be swept. But remember, some of these guys pop up in the majors and based on their lack of exposure to offenses alone, dominate their first time through the league. The Phillies lineup seems like it would be particularly susceptible to this phenomenon, I thought during brunch.
But who, entering today, would have believed that the Phillies would ever score runs again? That's right, nobody; not me, not the other people at brunch, not a server, and not a solemn-looking family at another table who "just want to be left alone, please, I'm begging you." When Cameron Rupp laced a streaking solo shot into the right field corner in the bottom of the second, that stupid theory was finally dismissed. Not long after, Tyler Goeddel was a slick Casey Kelly back-up stop away from an inside-the-park home run, and was singled home with two outs by Peter Bourjos. The 2-0 deficit that early on was one of the most bountiful offensive displays the Phillies have produced in days.
Eickhoff's success manifested itself in only 46 pitches thrown as he took the mound in the top of the sixth and in a ten-pitch battle with Reid Brignac, he threw his famous curve ball on three straight pitches to strike him out. Eickhoff pushed through seven innings, allowing only five hits and a walk, with no earned runs to show for them. He deserved to pat himself on the back, but the offense probably deserves a small amount of credit for doing what they should have been doing for the last three days.
In his previous three outings in May, Eickhoff only saw the offense score 4 combined runs. They gave him 5 today— PHILLIES TBOH (@FS_TBOH) May 22, 2016
Eickhoff put the bat on the ball in the fourth, too, logging an RBI ground-out to give his team a 3-0 lead. Later in the sixth, Maikel Franco blooped a single, his second hit of the day, knocking in two runs (Franco was thrown out trying to take second).
For only the ninth time all year and the first time since May 12, the Phillies scored at least five runs in a game. When Peter Bourjos singled to start the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies tied their season high for hits in a game with 13. The slumping Maikel Franco had a decent day, as did Odubel Herrera, who had two hits and a walk and almost a death on his hands.
Cameron Rupp bonked a 3-for-4 day, Tyler Goeddel ran out a triple, and Freddy Galvis whacked a couple of singles. Tommy Joseph probably had the most disappointing day, going 0-for-4, but he was called out on an absolutely awful called third strike and was also making back-handed stops at first base all afternoon. Production surged from a lineup that looked to be comprised mostly of ghosts only yesterday, possibly due to the opposing spot starter with a wet paper team behind him, or possibly due to the Phillies refusing to be swept. Probably the first thing.
In the longer term, it's obvious that Pete Mackanin needs more reliable sources of power in the middle of the order. A day like today highlights some of the more likely candidates, such as Rupp, who with his size and strength must have a home run reservoir in there somewhere for the Phillies to tap into. He ended the day hitting .274 with a .728 OPS, which, while middling, feels like a higher-end version of Rupp than we've seen in the past.
Hector Neris got the Phillies through the eighth and then Jeanmar Gomez appeared to make his first non-save appearance in over a month. He cleanly concluded the Phillies' seventh shut-out - and their largest scoring deficit - of the year. They finish this home stand over .500, despite two losses to the Braves, and now head to Detroit, where they will miss facing Jordan Zimmermann.